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      Americans Fail to Support Innovative Developments – Key to Survival of Sustainable Real Estate

      Perhaps the key component behind America’s great economic achievements is the entrepreneur. For example, Henry Ford helped the US dominate the global car industry for decades and Bill Gates helped make it dominant in the software market. Investors in Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter insured dominance in social media. While these success stories are well know, the factors behind them are less so. For his part, Ford did not invent the car nor did Gates invent the computer or DOS. And key technology components of all social media and search engine sites were invented by others.

      Similarly, real estate development followed a similar pattern with many innovative developments started by “idea men” that did not carry the project to fruition. Those dreamers are lost in the mist of history.

      In the last part of the Twentieth Century developers were often accused of inducing sprawl, endless paving, and undermining natural beauty. Some of this arose from bad ideas, but the real innovators in real estate created outstanding concepts that they might not have completed due to a variety of reasons. Insufficient financing is the leading cause of development failure. The current carnage in the real estate market destroyed many good development ideas along with bad.

      One such innovator was Charles Fraser, considered the father of the modern American beach resort. Mr. Fraser along with his brother and father developed the Sea Pines resort on Hilton Head Island, creating a resort of beach property, shopping, marinas, golf courses, and tennis courts out of wooded, sparsely populated island. Mr. Fraser was also involved in the initial development of Amelia Island Plantation Resort. Both developments were ahead of their time and eventually experienced financial hardship with other investors turning both of resorts into viable ventures.

      Donald Trump also made his name as a real estate innovator WITH some of the first brownfield redevelopment projects in New York City. His first attempt was to redevelop the Penn Central yards on the West Side in 1974, but a lack of financing caused him to lose the project to a competing group. When that group was unable to obtain financing, Trump stepped back into the picture in 1985 with a new plan for Television City, but it never materialized due to zoning problems that caused NBC to back out of the project. While Trump did complete the majority of his vision eventually he lost control in the 1990s due to financial problems. The final pieces of the project were finished with a development group from Hong Kong.

      Many other examples of smaller, less famous developers can be seen in almost every city in the US due to the financial turmoil and the global real estate bubble, but this is an exception rather than the

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